Tag Archive: Joe Ferriero

Westwood Gets a Case of the Willies

On Friday, Former Bergen County Democratic Party Boss Joe Ferriero, finally reports to prison for racketeering. However, a lot of Democrats in the Bergen County Democratic machine are still here. Like Dracula’s Renfield, anxiously awaiting the return of their master,…
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The Ferriero Guilty Verdict: It’s Complicated

This is cross-posted from my blog at Epoch Times

Complicated

[Last week]  when the jury in the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero emerged from 4 days of deliberations after an eight week trial with a mixed verdict, the jury foreman said it was difficult to follow the complicated case without a paper and pencil. I totally understand. A few years back, when Ferriero was at the height of his power, as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member I had to take to Visio to map out the complicated web of influence that drove the Pay to Play cycle (I first published that chart here on Blue Jersey)  during the eight year reign of the man known as “Boss Joe”. I had a few years to observe it, the jury only had two months.

They did find him guilty of racketeering for hiding his obscenely large percentage (up to 1/3) of the profits for software he convinced elected officials to purchase, while taking unusual steps to hide his financial interests. Although Ferriero faces a maximum sentence of 45 years behind bars, the problem with obtaining a guilty verdict on the other two schemes allowed to be discussed (there were more that the prosecutor did not focus on) had to do with two things, the way the victims perceived their role and testified to it, and the way that corruption in NJ is morphing into the private sector, where private firms are squeezed by greedy politicians. I’ll explain in a little bit.  

Joe Ferriero found guilty again

Joe Ferriero, former Bergen County Democratic Chair, was found guilty today of racketeering, wire fraud and bribery-related charges. He was acquitted in Newark Federal Court on two other counts – conspiracy to promote bribery and mail fraud.

He has been credited with engineering the resurgence of his party in Bergen County. However, in 2008 he was indicted in federal court on eight mail fraud counts. He was found guilty on three counts and sentenced to prison. In 2010 he was released when a judge vacated the decision. He was indicted again in 2013 and has just been found guilty. Sentencing has been set for July 27.

New Jersey’s history is replete with party bosses, from Republican Enoch L. Johnson (aka HBO’s Enoch “Nucky” Thompson) who controlled Atlantic City during prohibition to Democrat George Norcross whose influence today stretches from Camden to the governor’s office and beyond. These individuals have become a part of New Jersey’s fabric – often bending politics and business to their will.

Ferriero’s prosecution was conducted under the direction of Paul Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. With this trial now completed successfully, we may soon hear more from Mr. Fishman on indictments of other big fish.

Joe Ferriero: the rise and fall of a NJ Party Boss whose second trial nears an end

During New Jersey’s storied history, party bosses have often appeared as larger than life and seemingly above the law. For ten years through 2008, as Bergen County Democratic Party Chair, Joe Ferriero was such a figure. In 2007 he attempted unsuccessfully to unseat Senator Weinberg and her Assembly running mates who had been steadfast opponents of his organization. At the peak of his power, Ferriero was courted by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during their presidential primary battle in 2008. Then later in 2008 he was indicted in federal court on eight mail fraud counts. He was found guilty on three counts and sentenced to prison. In 2010 he was released when a judge vacated the decision following the Supreme Court’s narrowing the scope of “honest service fraud.”

Then in 2013, a federal grand jury again indicted Joe Ferriero on charges of bribery, kickback and shakedown schemes. After seven week of dramatic testimony the defense rested its case on Thursday. Ferriero decided not to testify on his behalf.

When the trial opened in Newark Federal Court in 2015 the prosecutor said, “Ferriero had abused his “immense power and influence…  lining his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars through a series of bribery, extortion and fraud schemes… He operated in a ‘secret world’ masking his illicit activities ‘by creating a series of shell companies’ to conceal the profits from his crimes.” In one scheme Ferriero was accused of bribing his former political ally, Dennis J. Oury, by making him a secret partner in a grants-writing business. A more lucrative scheme involved the alleged shakedown of the Virginia-based Mills Corp., which in 2002 was vying with two other competitors for the right to develop a retail and entertainment complex next to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.

So the man who has been credited with engineering the resurgence of his party in Bergen County a decade ago, was sentenced to prison, released, and then accused of racketeering. After rising and falling he soon should hear another jury’s verdict. There have been many twists and turns during the trial with high-powered individuals providing testimony. He is unlikely to escape unscathed. The Record, which has covered the trial extensively, lists 16 articles with links here.

Ferriero Trial – Break out the Popcorn

Cross posted at my blog at The Epoch Times.  

Next week the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero, the former Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization begins. The antics of Mr. Ferriero, who the New York Times portrayed as a modern day Boss Tweed, is the reason I became a political blogger in New Jersey in the first place. Next week, the biggest rock in New Jersey is about to be overturned in front of a jury and the politicians are about to scatter every which way. It will be quite fascinating. I know I will be breaking out the popcorn.

The charges are for racketeering. A nice way of saying Ferriero ran the most affluent county in NJ like Tony Soprano, minus the murder. Everyone had to kiss his ring. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton herself when she was running for President. I remember because I was there as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member and shook hands with her husband at the Hackensack Courthouse steps. Boss Joe was the most powerful Democratic Chairman in the state, even more powerful than Democratic Boss George Norcross of the South, who ascended to power when Christie indicted Ferriero on his way to the Governor’s mansion.

These Bosses are so powerful, even Governors and US Senators are afraid to cross them. But when you make deals with them, stuff happens. Chris Christie elevated Norcross by indicting Ferriero, and then went on to make deals with Norcross, to the utter consternation of the loyal Republican legislators who faithfully refused to overturn a single Christie veto. That courting, and Christie skipping town during their convention last week, is what has caused State Republicans to seriously consider dumping their embarrassing uncle. Christie is drawn to power, and in blue NJ, the guys with power were Ferriero and Norcross. Senator Loretta Weinberg succeeded in weakening Ferriero by exposing his corruption, and Christie took the opportunity to indict Ferriero because the writing was on the wall, and it gave him some corruption busting cred, even if that was only short lived. I expect if Christie announces a run for President it will be during Boss Joe’s trial to get that credibility back.

Bridgegate: NJ Real Estate & Corruption

Cross posted at my column at The Epoch Times

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n…

Since I originally posted this, Steve Kornacki interviewed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and it appears that Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno may have shaken down Hoboken on behalf of David Samsons law firm in return for Sandy recovery funds.

One of the most intriguing theories advanced in Bridgegate by Steve Kornacki that seems most plausible to my political sources here in NJ has been the real estate angle.  That, as well as Port Authority Chairman David Samson’s possible role in the scandal and the utter silence of the Board of Commissioners.

Still a Whodunit

Currently the feeding frenzy centered around Chris Christie by the national media is viewed here as not helpful to the investigation.  Partisans from across the country are trying to make this about Chris Christie and 2016 when the clues have not led directly to him just yet.  

I have spoken to NJ Legislative staffers who have been swamped with phone calls from across the country with  conspiracy theories. This whodunit has brought everybody out of the woodwork.  We still need to see un-redacted documents and get testimony from lawyered up folks facing serious jail time to understand what happened.  I am constantly surprised by the layers of corruption in NJ. The Prosecutors here are sophisticated and sometimes corrupt themselves, and so the criminals have to be even more creative.  Fortunately, the legislators investigating this are quite familiar with NJ corruption and just how complicated things can get.

Rod Blagojevich Prosecutor Called in

A significant development in the investigation has been the addition of the investigator who helped convict Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois.   I have written in the past about the similarities in the Blagojevich case and NJ.  Although he was most known for trying to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Blagojevich’s exploits often involved construction corruption. You have to read the charges to understand just why the prosecutors were so appalled at what he did while extorting real estate developers.

“Boss Joe” Ferriero Indicted Again!!!

What follows is an excerpt from a well reported article by Jerry DeMarco in “Cliffview Pilot”… (you can access the rest of the story and a PDF of the actual 75 page indictment there)  

http://cliffviewpilot.com/form…



>>>”A federal grand jury today indicted Joseph A. Ferriero, the former chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, on charges of soliciting bribes and extorting payments as part of a racketeering scheme that included various grants, building projects and software contracts, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced this afternoon.

The indictment also charges Ferriero, 56, with conspiring to promote bribery and distribute payoffs, as well as committing mail and wire fraud, among other offenses.

It had been expected for months, sources had told CLIFFVIEW PILOT, and  comes three years after the former power broker left federal court in Newark a free man, thanks to a change in the “theft of honest services” fraud law by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new indictment includes charges related to the activity that Ferriero was first accused of, while adding a pair of alleged schemes involving a real estate company in Virginia that allegedly paid $1.7 million in an effort to develop land owned by the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) in Bergen County. It also accuses Ferriero of accepting bribes through a Nutley-based attorney in exchange a favorable opinion of a software developer and his companies to various public officials in Bergen County.

Fishman accused Ferriero of running the Bergen Democratic organization as a racketeering enterprise, “abusing power for profit.”

Aaron T. Ford, who heads the Newark FBI Field Office called the indictment “another unfortunate example of someone misusing their position in our political system for personal gain. Such conduct tarnishes our political system.”

According to the indictment, Ferriero – who served as BCDO chairman from 1998 until January 2009 – “conducted the BCDO’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity involving three schemes: the Governmental Grants Consulting (GGC) kickback scheme, the retail and entertainment project bribery and extortion scheme and the SJC Consulting (SJC) bribery scheme.”<<<

Here is a link to the Bergen Record’s coverage…

http://www.northjersey.com/new…

My take on this is that it is good news for anyone who cares about justice being done…

The Ferriero Story Continues

Now I know why some FOJ (Friends of Joe Ferriero) keep stalking me on Blue Jersey. Because right around the time the Freeholders are trying to bring back the bad old days of Pay to Play in Bergen County under Joe – including his minion Freeholder Ganz, THIS story comes out.

http://www.northjersey.com/new…

It appears that Mariner’s Bank which was run by the developer Diabes – who has been a big player in construction and who got the boondoggle bid for Overpeck Park – loaned – unsecured mind you – and at 6% – $350,000 to Joe Ferriero, as well as other questionable loans to Dennis Oury and former Dumont Mayor Matthew McHale.  

This story is the gift that keeps giving.  I would not want to be Joe Ferriero when his bill of $387,000 comes due for that loan in July.  This story just keeps reminding everyone just how messed up things were in Bergen County during the Reign of Boss Joe.   And there are a lot of his best buds that really want folks to forget what happened – like Freeholder Ganz. Ganz reminds me of the minions in Harry Potter, who wish for nothing more than the return of he who shall not be named.  Hence this diary to remind everyone.  I highly recommend you read the full article.  It is pretty fascinating.  Even the Bergen County Prosecutors office was involved – parking their money at Diabes’ bank.  What a tangled web.  

Teaneck Politics Takes an Uglier Turn

I had some nasty flashbacks this past week. All the way back to 2005. That was around the time that the soon to be convicted Boss Tweed of Bergen County – Joe Ferriero – attempted to turn Non-Partisan Township of Teaneck into his own personal fiefdom.

Judging from what just happened in Teaneck last week, those awful poisonous seeds planted 8 years ago by Boss Joe, and which I have blogged about in the past, have come to fruition.  In fact some of them are sitting on the Council as we speak.  

One Good Turn Deserves Another: An Open Letter to Frank Lautenberg

Dear Senator Lautenberg:

I am writing to ask you to endorse your good friend and political ally, Congressman Steve Rothman, whose political career is on the line this Tuesday, June 5, when he faces Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. in the primary election in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.

You more than anyone should know what it means to have your career be on the line in a primary election.  After victoriously returning to the United States Senate as the replacement candidate for disgraced former Senator Robert “When did we become such an unforgiving people?” Torricelli (who Pascrell supported when Torricelli was considering a gubernatorial run in 2000-2001) in 2002, you were challenged in 2008 by Congressman Rob Andrews, a minion of Norcrossippi party boss, George Norcross, and in an attempt to flex his political muscles outside of his Norcrossippi fiefdom, Norcross reached out to the other party bosses.

One of these bosses was Bergen County Bossman Joe Ferriero, who for some time had been embroiled in a feud with the progressive State Senator Loretta Weinberg and was looking for allies who could help him defeat her once and for all.  Ferriero and Norcross were on the verge of striking a deal that would provide Ferriero with the help that he was seeking in return for him delivering the BCDO’s party line to Rob Andrews, which would have likely produced a domino effect that would have also resulted in Andrews getting the lines in other Democratic strongholds in North and Central Jersey, almost guaranteeing him victory in the primary election.